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they've run a brilliant campaign so far. this was a huge misstep but it doesn't mean anything overall. they will correct course. i've seen how good a campaign they've run here. it will get better going forward. all right. have a great night. stay right here on current. >> eliot: good evening. i'm eliot spitzer and this is "viewpoint." the first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign is over. president obama could be forgiven if he wanted to press the reset button. the candidates were all smiles as they came out shook hands in denver last night but when the 90-minute debate was over, mitt romney was the only contender with a reason to keep smiling. according to a cnn poll, 67% of adults thought romney won the debate compared to just 25% who picked the president. 46% of undecided voters in a cbs
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poll gave the win to romney to just 22% for mr. obama. nearly a third of the undecideds were undecided. romney's positive rating rose above 50% for the first time in this campaign in a reuters poll. the president's ratings stayed unchanged at 56%. romney stayed on the attack even though his positions were to be charitable and flatly untrue. here's some of what he said about his tax plan and the economy. >> romney: i'm not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. my plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit. my view is we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class but i'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people. we have 23 million people out of work. or stop look for work in this country. >> eliot: here's how the obama campaign responded to some of the claims. with an ad released this afternoon that relied on fact checkers.
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>> mitt romney has not laid out specifics for how he would pay for his tax cut. he says it's by reducing deductions and closing loopholes but he hasn't said which or how many. so the verdict here the simply incomplete. >> eliot: by the way that 23 million unemployed claim is also incorrect. off by only eight million people. romney also attacked the president on the obama care issue. >> romney: cut $716 million from medicare to pay for it. i want to put the money back in medicare for our seniors. it puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. pre-existing conditions are covered unmy plan. >> eliot: the obama ad took those claims on as well. >> each one has been checked and checked again. what president obama has proposed are not cuts cuts to
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medicare. the verdict is the language mitt romney uses, the verdict is false. >> romney: pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan. >> i have to rate that mostly fiction. >> eliot: while the obama campaign fought back today, the president seemed tired and disconnected and glad it was all over last night. >> obama: i want to thank governor romney because i think it was a terrific debate. and i very much appreciate it. >> eliot: minutes later liberal commentators began screaming about the attack lines the president could have used but ignored. why no mention of romney's damming comments that 47% of americans were freeloaders dependent on government handouts. obama campaign adviser david plough had an answer. it wasn't very good. >> 47%, that's an issue that 100% of the country knows about. the president wanted to tell the american people here's my job plan. focused on energy and education on the right way to fix the deficit. romney's approach is the wrong approach on taxes on deficit
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on wall street reform, on medicare and healthcare. >> eliot: on "good morning america," comedian jon stewart said he tried the same strategy in an upcoming debate with bile o'reilly. >> strategy that obama took, it is the rope-a-dope but instead of letting your opponent punch himself out you just get beat up. >> eliot: ouch. piling insult on top of self-inflicted injury, john sununu told msnbc's andrea mitchell -- >> what people saw last night i think, was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is. >> did you really mean to call barack obama the president of the united states lazy? >> he didn't want to prepare for this debate. he's lazy and disengaged. >> eliot: wow. asked if sununu's comments had overtones, it seems that way. obama's senior adviser david axelrod thinks romney's say what works strategy will ultimately
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work against him. >> eliot: which had better mean the next debate unless the president wants to see this slip away from him. joining me now rolling stone national affairs correspondent tim dickinson and doug thornel democratic strategist, knickerbocker former spokesman for the democratic campaign committee and traveling press secretary for howard dean's 2004 presidential campaign. thank you both for joining us. it was not so much fun watching last night and today, i kind of had the sense that we've read at different points in our lives about the seven stages of grief. i kind of saw the democratic party working through the stages today. tim, let me ask you are they now beginning to deal with reality and figure out how to put these things back together? >> you know, i actually went back and rewatched the debate
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today. it was sort of less bad than i think people honestly -- maybe you think i'm in denial but i think this actually was not a tragic debate for the president. i thought he came across as sleepy and a step too slow but other than that, you know, he was fine under substance. he didn't have any notable gaffes. we're not talking about some malapropism that he had last night. he came across as steady and competent. i think you know, we all in the media and partisans on both sides want fireworks in these debates but i think for the low information voters who have been hearing this straw man portrait of president obama as some crazy islamic radical, to tune in and see this guy who is kind of like a boring, reassuring president you know, i think is actually not such a terrible thing. in fact, the first polling we're seeing out of this, independents actually gave obama a boost in their response and his favorability ratings while mitt romney stayed static. i think we may end up seeing the
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chattering classes have a different perspective than the actual independent voters. >> eliot: tim i agree with you, chattering class rarely gets it right. on the other hand, i do think you got it right a few moments ago. you're in denial. i hate to say it. it wasn't a good performance. doug, you're a pro at this. give us the first top line assessment you bring to this. do you agree that maybe on review it wasn't quite so terrible then go back, actual specifics where mitt romney was wrong with his claims. doug, give us your sense. was tim right? was it not so bad? >> when i was watching the debate and afterwards, i thought this was really boring and that you know, that the president could have been a little more aggressive. i was one of the democrats sitting back saying on the $600 billion medicare cuts, why don't you support romney supports those cuts because he supports the ryan budget. on social security, why don't you pott point out -- point out the republican party wants to privatize it. i wanted to be the head coach
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speaking into president obama's ear. i read the transcript. the transcript is factually the president will be fine there. you know, it looked like he was not prepared for mitt romney etch-a-sketching his way out of this debate. that's really what mitt romney did. he grabbed his etch-a-sketch we've been waiting for it. he literally became a totally different politician with different views. his $5 trillion tax plan, you know he said only embrace teachers. he talked about how regulation was essential. these are all views and positions that romney has never supported over the course of the 18 months. i think that was really surprising and i think that actually shook the president a bit and he didn't really know how to deal with it. is the president just going to sit over there and call romney a liar? that's not necessarily helpful. so i think what's encouraging is now the president you know, today, if you listened to his speeches, he was up there fighting back and fighting back hard. i think his team understands that this is not going to a
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cakewalk for the next 30 plus days. >> eliot: doug, two responses to that. first, i think the president lacked the affirmative passionate aggressive articulation of what he has done to bring us back from the precipice. his failure to do that left him playing defense the entire evening and as a consequence you're exactly right. mitt romney did etch-a-sketch his way back to the middle something he had not been doing over the course of his campaign. he became the moderate which left a gaping, yawning gap between the positions he's taken and what he articulated last night. tim, let's come back to you on the issue of the $5 trillion tax cut, most of us are viewing that as basically a fundamental misstatement by governor romney. why didn't -- first do you agree it was a false statement by romney and second, if so, why didn't the president attack it as such? >> clearly false. strangest moment i had ever heard where you have a presidential candidate promising to veto his own economic agenda. it is just very, very strange. we're all talking about that today, too. i think that the president you
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know, you open up the debates. you actually -- the president -- let the challenger get some punches in. i think by repeatedly and boldly and flamboyantly lying about his positions, romney leaves himself open much the same way paul ryan did after his convention speech to -- you know, this is a mendacious person. because the other thing about romney last night is he came across as incredibly smart. this is a guy who clearly knows better. this is a guy who is clearly shading the truth because he can. not because he's ignorant or somehow doesn't quite grasp his own policies like we might have thought george w. bush had trouble with. >> eliot: you're right. romney came across as smart. that's what affected it. doug, my question was every time i heard the $5 trillion gig, why did the president not turn to him and say if you do not plan to add a $5 trillion revenue
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loss what loopholes will you close? give us the broad brush outlines because without that, you don't have credibility. it would have seemed to me to be the appropriate response. >> absolutely. he could have just kept pressing him and i -- before the debate, my whole view was the president needs to spend little bit of time on defense and then just go on the offense. because mitt romney is so vulnerable to attacks not only on his current policies but on his previous policies and in being a flip-flopper and certainly his time as a businessman which really didn't come up that much which was surprising. certainly the president didn't press it but you didn't hear a lot about mitt romney talking about and bragging about how he created jobs because he knew he was vulnerable there. you didn't hear a lot about his time in massachusetts because he was vulnerable there. he had one of the worst records of any governor in recent history. so i think that there are -- you know, there were a number of opportunities that the president, i think just missed. and the one thing to tim's point
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though, he left a trail of lies and statements that i think will put some pressure on paul ryan to deal with. and i think if joe biden is smart, he's going to use this and use some of governor romney's comments to put paul ryan in the corner. >> eliot: that's absolutely correct if one was trying to be as thoroughly objective as one might be but having lived through the fog of politics, objectivity and fact is in the eye of the beholder and therefore i think establishing what is true and what is fact will be difficult for either side going forward and governor romney certainly took the aggressive posture here. let's talk very quickly demeanor. tim, the president's demeanor many people thought was simply one of defense. he just -- he didn't seem to be the forceful advocate that he has been. do you agree with that? you said you watched it again today. did he strike you as being more affirmatively impressive than he struck us last night? >> well, you know, it sounded worse on the radio. so when i saw it on tv, it
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wasn't quite so bad. he really did kick it into gear at the end. so i don't think -- this is the first of three debates. and i think we saw at the end a president who's completely capable of going toe to toe with romney and matching his energy and matching his smarts. i think the president was rusty. which often happens. reagan was terrible in his first debate against mondale and went on to the greatest landslide in recent history. no reason to be panicking about this for liberals at this point and i think the president is competitive enough that his fire is now i'm sure lit in his belly and will be coming up strong in the second debate. >> eliot: move to the second stage of grief. doug how do you rate the president's demeanor and his presence? how did he look? >> you know, i don't -- i personally think that the president is just an average debater. i think what happened, there were a lot of times his head was down. i wish he would look at the camera ail -- a little bit more.
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he was okay. he wasn't great. there are moments during the debates with hillary clinton where you wanted him to be more aggressive. he's just not -- that's not his approach to debating and i don't know if he will ever be a guy who's going to be able to throw a knockout punch. but overall, i don't think he created any problems for himself moving forward like mitt romney may have. it is going to be up to democrats to take advantage of some of the opportunities that romney gave. romney won the night but it may have ultimately hurt him down the road if the president's campaign and if democrats are smart about going after some of the statements that romney made. >> eliot: i have somebody who is going to call both of you to help you deal with reality for the next couple of days. democratic strategist doug thornel and tim dickinson, thank you for your time tonight. what we were waiting to hear last night but didn't. that's ahead.
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>> eliot: amid all of the speck lake that eye can could
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become a nuclear threat -- speculation that iran could become a nuclear threat, the sanctions are working which brings us to the number of the day, 25% is how much value iran currency lost against the dollar in the black market and that's just in the past week or so. over the last year, the wall the "wall street journal" estimates it lost more than 80% of what it was worth. that's a catastrophic devaluation. even iran's illusional president, ahmadinejad said the emargue go on its oil is causing real pain. street protests have broken out and iran's government had to crack down on the black market money changes. the economic harm of sanctions maybe do more to destabilize the iranian regime than we thought. it could be reaching a tipping point where internal chaos that forces the iranian government to negotiate for real about their nuclear program. the proof of this is that israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu has embraced the sanctions of -- the sanctions. sanctions may help move iran's
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policies before the shots are fired. the powerful my steal an election but they cannot steal democracy. >> eliot: doug, you have a lot of titles. that's a mouthful. i want to come back what is, in a way the fulcrum of this debate. even though we all know it is completely out of context and the republican -- the president was claiming government builds things is false the debate
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about who should be doing what is at the heart of this. has the president articulated with enough force and verve the role that government has to play either in a regulatory capacity which not everybody likes or investing in education highways erie canal the hoover dam, whatever the metaphor may be. >> listening to him last night workman-like job of talking about the role of the of government and why government is something that can do things as they were saying we all can't do for ourselves. he's lacked that vision thing like what is the big hoover dam? they had amazing investment in clean energy. this $90 billion that mitt romney brought up last night and -- but there's not one signature saying that came out of that that we can all say hurrah! i think that sort of hurt obama. he also doesn't have that signature thing that he's driving toward because the big government is not very popular right now. it is difficult to say -- he can
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say i want 100,000 teachers or new construction jobs but he's stuck in the middling generalities about it instead of saying i want to build a super train that goes from los angeles to california. >> eliot: tim, who would have thought that barack obama, we could say he doesn't have the vision thing. we think he's so smart and he is. we think he does have vision and i think he does. but he has not presented it. he has never articulated his conception of what government is for, except, as you say, beyond the -- when it came to government -- he built it, infrastructure is the high-speed rail that no one thinks will get done in our lifetime. doug, this is what bothers me. he did not lay the foundation for this anywhere along the past three and a half years. it is easy for mitt rom -- romney to mock it. >> the thing about the $90 billion, the president should have pushed back on that.
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many of the green energy funds that were made -- that were allocated through the recovery act were very successful and that's been a very successful program. there is a great book out there called the new new deal that looks at the recovery act. i wish the president had pushed back harder there. what he hasn't done and what democrats haven't done successfully over the last four years is tie together the importance of doing healthcare reform with the recovery act. why is that helping middle class families and what that has allowed the republicans to do is to throw it in this gumbo pot of big government and define it on their terms and i think the president has recently, in the last couple of months gotten out and done a more -- has done a better job of making the case as to why -- we're all in this together. he talks about citizenship and community and i think that's been helpful. i think the convention has been helpful to him and bill clinton's definition of the right way and the wrong way.
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but look i agree. i was working in the house and we had a difficult time with tying it all together because we were doing a lot of things to keep the economy afloat while republicans were just sitting on the sidelines literally throwing -- you know throwing tomatoes at us. they weren't doing anything. it gave them -- it allowed them to basically -- you know, define itty-bitty pieces of what we were doing in a negative light. >> eliot: having just gone through the replacement ref fiasco with the nfl, it was a perfect metaphor for the president to say under the prior administration, there were no refs. there was chaos and dangs danger and hence the cataclysm and to the issue of building, the auto bailout barely came up which is the example of a government equivalent of a private equity deal. he didn't seem to use the tools and examples. tim, last shot to you would you have used the auto bailout as a metaphor for something that government did that worked, most
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people agree has had a great positive consequence for our society. >> i think that was probably the president's biggest missed opportunity. in his laundry list of losers from this green technology stuff that the romney was saying he included tesla which is this fabulously growing electronic car company. mitt romney is a car guy somehow hates cars. he calls tesla a loser and wants detroit to go bankrupt. you don't get many softballs like that to hammer and the president was not in a hammering mood last night. i think we're going to see a different performance from him in the second debate. >> the owner of tesla owns space-x which launched the first successful private rocket to space. you know look, medicare is a great example of a well-run government program that now republicans seem to want to embrace. >> eliot: tim, to your metaphor of having a hammer, i think in the next debate, everything will look like a nail to the president. he will be swinging the hammer
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awfully fast and hard. at least i hope so. rolling stone national affairs tim dickinson. thank you, doug thornell for giving us a few extra minutes tonight. >> thank you. >> eliot: one more thing obama needed for the debate. auto tuning. the viewfinder is coming up next.
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>> eliot: a win for democracy in pennsylvania may mean a loss for romney come november. first, paul ryan's video diary fox news's expert analysis and the debate auto tuned. when it doesn't fit anywhere else, we put it in the viewfinder. >> paul ryan video diary. party time. you ever have a butt cheek problem in the morning. you're going to vomit? >> bring on rates. simplify the code. >> find out if mitt romney has momentum on his side and we'll
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talk about with some experts like michelle madson, larry the cable guy. >> you could see at the end of that debate, anniversary or not michelle wanted to go home with mitt. >> obama: double down. >> romney: simplify the code. >> obama: double down. >> steak baby. you have a guitar and a song about my favorite color. space monkey -- >> current republican nominee mitt romney. mitt, come on out. [ applause ] >> i must say in person, you're even more handsome. >> what a kind and thoughtful thing to say. especially to a guest who is so reticent to appear on your late night television program. >> they'll be getting a severance and others if they so choose, can receive some employment assistance where
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they'll be getting some resume and application help. the production plant will be shut down in phases. >> this is my band's first single. right now i'm -- it is heart beat. i don't want to move my food. i don't want to move the cat. ♪ >> romney: thank you mr. president. >> obama: i want to thank the university of denver. ♪ >> debates are better. >> eliot: that was more fun to watch. the voter i.d. law stalls in pennsylvania. that's next on "viewpoint." economy on barack obama is kinda like blaming your hangover on the guy making breakfast. i like mitt romney but i'm sorry. they guy has flipped more than a crack house mattress. this campaign has become so toxic, beverly hills housewives are now injecting it into their foreheads. (vo) so current gave him a
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weekly show. >> i love romney's debate style, but i tell you, if i could be that stiff for 90 minutes, i'd ... (vo) we probably won't regret it.
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>> eliot: it was supposed to be the thing that would help mitt romney win the state of pennsylvania. don't take my word for it. here's pennsylvania state house republican leader mike turzai in june. >> voter i.d. which will allow governor romney to win the state of pennsylvania, done. >> eliot: actually, not quite done. on tuesday, a pennsylvania judge ruled that state officials cannot enforce this controversial new law in next month's presidential election. the reason as judge robert simpson who had upheld the law in august before the state supreme court directed him to reconsider now writes and i quote...
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only a judge could write that. in other words the difficulty of obtaining the i.d. cards needing to vote could disenfranchise a significant number of voters, specifically the elderly and minorities, aka democrats, aka exactly who state representative turzai and his cohorts intended to disenfranchise. of course, this is only a partial victory in the fight against voter i.d. laws. the ruling did not find the statute unconstitutional. it merely delayed its implementation. it is a series in judicial decisions that have thrown out voter i.d. laws passed this year. joining me to discuss the latest in the fight against voter i.d. laws ted shaw from the school of law one of the most senior attorneys from the naacp defense fund and kevin powell, political activist and author of barack obama, ronald reagan and the ghost of dr. king blogs. ted, i dealt with you a lot when i was an a. g. how important is this
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pennsylvania decision? >> it's big. the pennsylvania -- pennsylvania of course one of the swing states and you know, this has been one of these steamrollers this voter i.d. law thing and as you know, the supreme court a few years ago upheld voter i.d. laws in indiana. how, i don't know. because it's been described as a solution in search of a problem. there is no such thing as significant in person voter i.d. that justifies the adoption of these laws. pennsylvania, of course, is only one state that was moving ahead with these laws. this is big. it means that as many as 700,000 voters may not have to fight this kind of disenfranchisement this time around. >> eliot: as i said, texas -- it was found unconstitutional. >> texas. wisconsin. florida has faced this. >> eliot: florida in terms of
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early voting. so what had been a concerted effort on the part of the republican party to jam the laws through state legislature may in fact fail. kevin, give me your perspective on this. are they going to quit and say the courts have turned us down? >> it from my perspective i've been an organizer during voter education registration since the 1980s. and i remember going down to alabama, having to reregister folks to vote during the reagan administration. this keeps recurring as i'm sure ted would agree. even though we got the victory in pennsylvania for this election the law hasn't been struck down. it is still on the books. just the fact that they're saying some poll workers may ask for i.d.s it presents a problem. >> eliot: no question -- as you say the statutes on the book, they can still ask people for i.d. even if they don't have it, they'll be permitted to vote. the concern we all had before this decision was that up to 700,000, 900 thousand00,000 people
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would be barred and the impact may be barred. but ted you get comfort from the fact as a lawyer that the courts are expressing hostility to the statutes. they're seeing through the veneer of neutrality that the republican party tried to create and mask the statutes with. >> it is a good thing the courts are beginning to stand against these laws, find them illegal unconstitutional. kevin is right. this battle isn't over and even being asked at the polls this time around is going to be intimidating for some people. it will be important to have poll watchers who make sure that people are not being intimidate and discouraged from voting. yes, i'm glad that judges are beginning to strike down these laws. they're shameful. everybody knows -- this unspoken discourse, what this is really all about. you can talk about it being motivated by partisanship. you can talk about it being motivated by other sinister motivations like race because we know what the impact is going to
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be but it's also on poor people, on elderly people. this is shameful. it is fundamentally un-american. >> but it's also part of a long string of our history. not a proud part of our history but it is a part of our history. >> it is not just blacks, or latinos, it is college women it could be a couple that just got married and someone changed their name and they have to get a new i.d. in a couple of weeks. a range of americans who are affected by these kind of laws. >> eliot: there is a hierarchy of degrees of invidiousness. i think race is the most invidious and clearly -- i shouldn't say clearly, it struck me that was what underlie many of the statutes but as you point out, even college students who many towns don't want kids to come in, are living there for four years to take over the democratic process. a little turn of events that -- i find beautiful irony in this. there has now been some voter fraud discovered but it's buried deep inside the republican party
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with this guy nathan sprewell who was paid $17 million by republicans seems to be involved in ugly stuff. >> this goes back to 2004 actually. he's been accused of this for about eight years. you know, he's going around the country. we feel he's been helping to purge people interest -- from the voter rolls. there's been no proof of it in large scale numbers but we see it happening with republicans. in florida, it is clear. >> eliot: just so it's clear. this is not just democrats saying ooh look at this guy. there are criminal probes that have been opened. >> that's right. the common thread, of course is that as with the attempts to push people out of the electoral process, this is also another form of disenfranchisement. this is somebody who through fraudulent measures is trying to push people away from the polls
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out of the polls whatever. it is undemocratic. so shame on him. shame on republican party. and shame on anyone in either party who tries to keep people from voting. >> eliot: it is, as we have said -- get people into the voting booth to cast the ballot in favor of whomever they believe to be the best candidate. do you think though because you now have the republican party burdened with this -- what will be big news in all of the newspapers tomorrow, courts strike all of this down. do you think they will change their tactic and say look, guys, this isn't working. >> absolutely not. >> eliot: hope. >> shameless and shameful at the same time. this is not going to stop. >> they want power. they want power not just the presidency but they want to control the states around the country. that's what it's about. >> eliot: you listed the states this fellow sprewell is focusing on. many happen to be the swing states that are critically important to national election.
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ted shaw, thanks for joining us. political activist and author of barack obama ronald reagan and the ghost of dr. king, kevin powell, thank you both for your time tonight. >> it is an honor. thank you. >> eliot: dna evidence freed an innocent person from jail for the 300th time. i'll talk to a member of the innocence project coming up. it says a lot about you. ♪ ♪ in a deep, hemi-rumble sort of way. guts. glory. ram.
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>> eliot: my own debate experience with glenn beck. that's ahead on my view. later tonight in "the war room," governor jennifer granholm will find out if last night's debate changed the trajectory of the swing state and national polls with stat maven and nate silver when he brings his latest analysis into "the war room." that's later tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern. more "viewpoint" coming up ahead.
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the powerful my steal an election but they cannot steal democracy. >> eliot: tuesday night at the fillmore auditorium in denver, i have the unique experience of debating glenn beck. for me, this was like waiting until the belly -- wading in the belly of the beast and the several hundred people in the audience were devout beck fans, many of them card carrying members of the tea party. what i realized during my exchanges with them and beck was that these folks are in a fact-free zone. its my best to bring facts into the debate and in place of facts, beck came with libertarian rhetoric and some random quotations from the founding fathers that he tried to pass off as historical knowledge. >> i don't think we're getting the truth from our politicians.
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i don't think we're getting the truth from our media and i don't know how many of us as citizens are even recognizing the truth within ourselves. >> eliot: i apologize. i'm a boring lawyer, you know. i used to have to prove my case in front of a jury and they demanded something particular. you know what it was? facts. facts! [ applause ] you have to tether your argument to something real and tangible. >> lincoln's second inaugural address, he said this. paraphrasing, let us get to the hard work and heal the wounds of this nation with malice toward none and charity for all. >> eliot: george w. bush as president. look what happened when barack obama -- see those red lines? 750,000 jobs a month we were losing. >> there are few facts that we have to say. we have to understand. first of all government does not create jobs. government destroys jobs.
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>> eliot: when did we have the greatest era of growth? job creation, middle class wealth creation? when was it? after we had the new deal. from 1945 until the turn of the century. premised on government investment that helped. >> the american religion is this. there is a god. we're going to meet him when we die. and again, i'm paraphrasing. he gets testy when we haven't really served him. and the last one is the best way to serve him is to serve our fellow man. >> eliot: we didn't stand up to germany and nazism and the evil of that era because we were libertarians. no. we did it because we had a government. we had franklin delano roosevelt who understood the power of our united action. >> there is such a thing as reality! am i the only one here that sees reality and the shift? it is insane.
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we're lying to ourselves. stop lying to yourselves. >> eliot: this notion that 47% of the american public are slackers, are freeloaders is fundamentally wrong and says more about the way mitt romney views us as a society than anything else. >> benjamin franklin, when they finally came to the constitution, he's walking down the road and the story goes a woman came up to him and said what have you given us? mr. franklin? he said "a republic if you can keep it." >> eliot: we have the most powerful nation on the earth the largest economy, the greatest wealth, the most creative innovative economy anywhere in the world and the world is imitating us. how is that? how is that? [ applause ] we're not at the precipice. continued greatness. >> stand up for what you believe
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in. you might end up being wrong. i might end up being one of the most incorrect men ever. whatever. so be it. i believe what i'm saying. >> eliot: beck's arguments wandered from the bizarre to the irrelevant. the passion he and his fans summoned for their anti-government rhetoric is based on a strong emotional need to channel a deep-rooted visceral anger caused by god knows what and the government has become the perfect target for their ire. what transforms their an high ilist views is the way they turn the founders of the nation into paragons of virtue. they say that if only we had remained true to the founders, things today would be all right. i tried to counter their views in three ways. first, by disagreeing with their underlying and pervasive pessimism about the state of the world with what i think is a well-founded view that things, when framed in the grand arc of history are actually pretty good.
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and an ideological level we're winning the larger global battles. even if things are economically tough, we're better off than we were four years ago when we were staring into the precipice of our impending doom. second, by using facts, i tried to show their attacks on president obama's policies are simply wrong. their views about the role of government in the economy simply don't hold up under the slightest scrutiny. and third, i tried to show how our current politician and even the individual mandate for health insurance do, in fact, fit neatly into the vision of the nation as the founding fathers and our constitution. the result quite frankly was to convince not a single member of their camp. perhaps that's not surprising given the rather fractured and polarized nature of our politics but it was troubling to me. facts simply bounced off of them. in the beckian world view, fear runs rough shod over truth and absurd claims about the role of government pass off as an ideological construct.
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whohow do you debate that? thank goodness for the first amendment. that's my view. you'd spot movement, gather intelligence with minimal collateral damage. but rather than neutralizing enemies in their sleep
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>> eliot: get a confession get a conviction justice is done. now, it is more complicated. time and again we're seeing false confessions obtained through coercion and dna evidence is casting doubt. last week, dna evidence, damon thibodeau was exonerated after spending over a decade on death row based on a false confession. his release makes him the 300th wrongfully convicted person to be freed by the innocence project and the 18th to have served time on death row. taken together, the 300 ex-on rees spent 4,013 years for crimes they did not commit. joining me now is vanessa pot kin for the innocence project which helped free 300 people through dna evidence and other attacks on the convictions.
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congratulations. really you right grievous wrongs in our society. are we making progress? is there a trend specifically as it relates to confessions and certain types of crime where there is anger but no evidence? >> i think that we are. i think that there's a general consensus that people still take confessions as this solid evidence and really don't understand why would someone who's innocent confess to a murder, rape that they didn't commit but we have -- you know, 20 states across the country who have taken on reforms such as videotaping interrogations and 850 jurisdictions that have taken this on to try to prevent false confessions. >> eliot: look there has been progress over time. used to be that -- an identification -- look at someone in the courtroom you did it. the famous perry mason moment. people understand those visual
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identifications often are wrought out of confusion or desire to find someone and the judicial system is more skeptical. what you just referenced, the move toward taping and videotaping or audiotaping interrogations, is that gaining traction because there's now mounting evidence there are more and more false confessions as in this case, the thibodeau case, you wear somebody down and you sometimes threaten, coerce, is there a move toward that in more and more states? >> absolutely. unfortunately, you know, this is something that we haven't adopted statewide in new york yet. new york is the third in terms of the leading -- leading the country in wrongful convictions but we've been a little bit behind in the state in terms of wrongful -- in terms of adopting reform. new jersey connecticut have taken these on in the area of false confessions and there are reforms that we have that we could put in place pretty simple to make sure that we're -- you know, getting to the heart of misidentifications as well.
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>> eliot: what are some of the procedures that you think would benefit the judicial system? >> one is blind administration which is that the person who is administering the photo ray or the line-up doesn't know who the suspect is. and it's not that we think all officers are bad and they're going to intentionally lead a witness to a certain suspect. but unintentional, there are lots of cues that can be transmitted that subconsciously influence an i.d. >> eliot: just so folks understand somebody's doing a line-up where everybody is used to seeing in movies and on tv shows. five people behind the glass. and the person who is the victim or the witness is asked which one of them did the committed crime. you're saying the person who organizes that identification process, himself herself should not know who the alleged defendant perpetrator may be because otherwise you can transmit and unintentionally who is to be chosen. >> absolutely. another important reform is just documenting confidence
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statements. once that witness selects the suspect or selects whoever they do out of the line-up, for it to be recorded. how confident are they in the witness's own words. the reason that this is so critical is because we have seen that somebody who is unsure at the time they make the identification by the time months transpire and the legal proceedings go on, by the time they get to trial they're very confident. they've had this growing amount of confidence. >> eliot: 300 people who were behind bars now free. we now have to confront the reality that our judicial system is imperfect. even though we strive and i give it -- i was attorney general. we were on the opposite side institutionally at a point in my career. we must acknowledge the system fails. what does that mean about the death penalty? >> it means that we can't afford to have the death penalty. if we have a system that makes mistakes at the rate that we know mistakes are made. right now we're talking about
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300 dna exonerations. there are many people exonerated through non-dna evidence. if we have a system that sends innocent people to prison and death row, that's a mistake that we as a society can't afford to make. and you know voters in california right now are considering proposition 34 to end the death penalty there. >> eliot: will it pass, do you think? >> i don't know. hopefully so. we don't have the mechanisms in place to be certain with the convictions that we're putting forward. in addition to that, you know, aside from the death penalty in america, we send a lot of people to prison for even nonmurder offenses for life. we have 2.4 million people right now and even if we're wrong 1% of the time, you're talking about over 20,000 people innocent. >> eliot: we will continue this conversation because this is so critical. it goes to the integrity of our judicial system. something we all must and should and hopefully do care about.
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